By: Morgan Collignon
2020 was the year I had been looking forward to because the events that were going to take place were the ones I had been waiting for my whole life. I was expected to graduate with my doctoral degree, begin my first full time job as an Audiologist, and marry the love of my life after almost two years of engagement with a lavish honeymoon in St. Lucia to follow. This was no doubt going to be my year! When March came around, all of my countdowns to start the rest of my life seemed to be in reach. Then, COVID19 struck the world. I was in such denial that this year could potentially be flipped upside down and my plans would have to change. As it started to get closer and things like my bridal shower and graduation were postponed, reality set it. I grieved for a few days, but then, with the support from my fiancée, I remembered that my plans might not be the plans God has for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
With the level of uncertainty that surrounded our wedding, all we could do was put our faith in God to get us through. Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid I put my trust in You.” By putting my trust in God, something happened during the pandemic that I never could have predicted. The quarantine ended up being the biggest blessing for my life and my relationship. During that time, Austin and I continued our pre-marital counseling virtually with our pastor, we spent more time together focusing on ways to make our relationship better, and we grew exponentially in our faith. Austin and I joined a community group within our church and dove into lots of bible study! All things we’ve wanted to do but always put off until we “had more time.” We were still unsure of what the outcome of our wedding would be, but as we grew in our faith we came to realize that the sacrament of marriage is so much more than an extravagant wedding. It is about two souls joining together in a covenant with God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
We decided to have a small wedding in the backyard with our closest family members. It turned out to be even more incredible than anything we could have ever planned. It was truly the best day of my life because God was at the center of it all. It still came with its fair share of challenges and hurdles, but it turned out to be exactly what God had planned for us all along!
What challenges and uncertainties are you facing that you can place at God’s feet, trusting that He will take care of it? I would love to hear about it.
By: Nancy Cangi, Treasurer at Her Life Speaks
It was October 19, 2014 and I sat in church, eyes closed and quietly praying feeling very alone and depressed. Around me I heard joy and laughter. It was then I knew why I did not like coming to this church. I was not happy and felt out of place surrounded by laughter. Then services began and the pastor said: “Is everybody happy?". Most of the congregation shouted out "YES!". He then said: "Good, because if you aren't then you are in the wrong place!". WOW. I was stunned. I ran out of church - and got in my car shaking & crying wondering... WHAT? JUST? HAPPENED? Everything I believed about God was turned upside down and inside out. I had never been so angry at God – EVER!
The next week was one of the worst weeks of my life. I knew if I did not find a new church to go to and FAST, then I would never return. I searched online and the following Sunday I visited my local church. The message was entitled – “Dealing with Life's Groanings!”. I had groaned more that last week than I can ever remember. All the grief, anger, fear, anxiety and frustration in my life wanted to come out. I suppose that was His plan. Just a
week earlier, I was an outcast because of my suffering and now I knew I had found my home. God had delivered me out of oppression and led me to His grace.
Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”
Fast forward 6 years, I am now well into my 50’s and never married. I feel like I have always been searching for my true love, my soul mate. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. There is a terrible loneliness that comes with living alone. A friend would always say to me, “you may be lonely, but you are never alone.”. I hated that expression; it was an oxymoron to me. I was searching for a man to love me, despite all my brokenness, for a man to want to be with me when I did not want to be with myself. I wanted a man to just love
me because I did not know how to love myself. I finally found that man, and His name is Jesus.
Song of Songs 2:16a (NIV) “My beloved is mine and I am his”
What I have learned is that all my life I was hearing Jesus say, “Follow Me and I’ll love you”, but now I hear “I love you, follow Me!” It is hard to believe that God knows everything I have done and still accepts me, but He does. He sent His Son to be crucified for MY sins, that is how much He loves me despite everything I have done, or not done. That is His magnificent gift of grace.
I now know what it means to be lonely but never alone. Jesus is always with me. He lives IN me. Thank you, Jesus, the emptiness in my heart is finally filled.
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
During that awful week in October 2014 I questioned God, where was He? Why do you allow me to suffer so much? Now when I look back, He was there all along, He did not cause my suffering, but He did use it to draw me closer to Him.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Psalm 107:1 (NIV) “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Have you ever questioned God’s plans for you? How do you fill the loneliness in your heart?
Have you ever questioned God’s plans for you? How do you fill the loneliness in your heart?
Please share how God has showed up for you.
By, Lauren Caron
REALife Youth Director, Beauty Project Team leader
If you’re anything like me, a working mom (mostly from home now) with two littles, 3 and under, you’re craving those date nights to get back into schedule somewhat consistently and some hubby one-on-one time! As things are slowly opening up more and more due to the COVID19 virus, you can now book a restaurant with a cute tent setup for outdoor dining… the only other thing you need, is a babysitter! I always like to keep a steady list of 3-5 girls that I use, so that there’s always someone available when I need them. It can definitely be hard to find someone you trust that checks all of your boxes!
What’s the best way to find a sitter in the first place?
Now that you have a sitter, are your kids excited for her (or him) to come or are they clingy and crying for you at the door begging you not to leave? Usually my kids will be happy to have someone come play with them, but occasionally, my youngest, won’t be too happy about it and I have to find something to distract her with in order to get out the door. So whatever that means for your child, it could be a snack or treat, or their favorite show or toy… just make sure not to linger too long or it just makes it worse for them. Usually my babysitter will tell me she stopped crying within a minute or two and then was happily playing. So don’t let it guilt you into worrying! And it will get easier each time, especially if they’re not used to having someone new watch them. You can also order a pizza or tell them they can have ice cream later (also works for bigger kids) and they think it’s a fun, special night for them as well!
I always like to be prepared and have all instructions written out on the kitchen counter about food, bottles, bedtime routines, and emergency numbers, as well as telling the sitters in person , so that it’s all clearly laid out for them. If you happen to have a teen who babysits, you can pass along that moms usually love a text with a picture of happy children half way through the night, or any updates, to put our minds at ease. In addition, we appreciate when we come home and find all the toys cleaned up and any dishes used, washed or in the dishwasher, so we don’t have to do it at the end of the night ☺. That usually comes with a tip for them! Lol, so go ahead and schedule that date night out, you’ll be so glad you did!
Is fear or anxiety holding you back from booking a babysitter and leaving the kiddies at home? Fear is one of the enemy’s most popular weapons that he uses against us. Scripture says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you in your decision making when finding a babysitter and when choosing the best time to leave the kids at home :)
Are there any other tips that have worked for you? Is there anything else preventing you from taking the plunge with leaving the kids home with a babysitter for the first time? I’d love to hear from you.
From Founder, April Sliwak
Have you gotten used to coexisting with COVID19 yet? It seemed like that’s what we were doing this summer. From what I saw, people were out socializing, vacationing and at the Jersey shore. There didn’t seem to be fear but rather compliance and an understanding of how to cautiously get back to normal as it looks today. It appeared people felt more comfortable than when the quarantine was in affect.
In March, the pandemic was upon us and we were mandated into a quarantine. I
remember feeling a stillness, unsure of even what tomorrow would bring as we were
learning more about the virus. Post surgery, (from my kidney transplant), my immune
system became compromised so that caused me to have an underlying feeling of
uncertainty and fear of losing the new kidney I was gifted. Events and gatherings of
every kind were being canceled or postponed including our event, The Beauty Project
for teen girls.
There were disappointments in people’s lives due to COVID19 including us at
Her Life Speaks.
What I want you to know:
In the fall of 2019 at a Leadership Getaway, we felt God calling us to host The Beauty
Project instead of the annual retreat for two reasons; 1. We were all in agreement that
this year the BP should take precedence as we felt convicted to pour God’s truth into
their lives was a priority. 2. As a 100% volunteer based ministry, we felt we had to
choose between the two events. In prayer, we saw God leading us to the BP.
While we were in quarantine, our efforts and focus were all on the BP which was to take
place on Oct. 3, 2020. We postponed the launch a few times as we all waited on the
Lord in prayer and fasting to see when would be the right time. Once we launched in
July we continued to plan and move forward which included marketing and a monthly
newsletter in your inbox. However, by now, you probably know that we are postponing
the BP until the spring.
Why am I writing to you?
To acknowledge that as we were putting our attention into the BP, we may have lost
sight of everyone else! Please forgive us if you may have felt that way. Another reason
you may have felt this way was because I felt less engaged. I didn’t realize it for a long
time but I was still recovering from surgery in December 2018. This took me by surprise
as I was told over and over again that it would take a year to feel myself. But for me it
was much longer. Therefore, the BP was all I could focus on as I had little energy for
anything else. I’m being vulnerable by wanting to be transparent with you. The Lord
taught me a few things about vulnerability this summer which is why I write to you now.
God continues to heal me and also is moving within the ministry. He has given us a
fresh vision to serve women and the teens AND bring a new team of young women
whose calling is aligned with the mission of Her Life Speaks. Moving ahead, we’re super
excited to connect with you through storytelling, worship, small groups, prayer, social
media and Zoom. We’re working really hard to be better at connecting with you online
until we can see one another in person again. We all really miss you!
We remember you in our prayers, plans and in our calling to serve you.
Love, April xx
Reading is a wonderful way to clear your mind and unwind. Relax and unwind these last few weeks of summer by checking out the below book recommendations!
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.